There is little doubt that this year has been a most difficult one for farming in general and tillage farming in particular. Driving through the countryside this past weekend (nearing the end of September) it was noticeable that there were still many fields of grain yet to be harvested – a task which would be expected to be completed near the beginning of September in a “normal” year. This coupled with a cold and wet growing season and waterlogged ground conditions has meant that harvesting has been delayed with both crop yields and quality well down on other years. As we enter the traditional October Harvest Thanksgiving seasons, there is the real possibility that many farmers will not be able to sing with much conviction that favourite hymn line, “all is safely gathered in” and they will be left wondering what happened to that other well-known hymn line “the warmth to swell the grain”! There is the further consequence for the rest of us that poor crop yields, not only in this country but internationally may inevitably lead to higher food prices, putting further strain on already overstressed household budgets.
If we were to view the situation purely from this viewpoint, it could be argued we have very little to give thanks for. And yet, if we put things into their proper perspective, we will discover that we have more than plenty to be thankful for. Despite everything, there is no fear that we will suffer a lack of food or face starvation over this coming winter. Although conditions have been difficult, it cannot be described as a total crop failure as regularly happens in other parts of the world where the risk of starvation is an all-too-real possibility. Take for example parts of Africa and India where either too little or too much rain results in no harvest whatsoever. Due to the poverty of these regions, the possibility of buying food is not an option and as a result, the entire population face starvation. Yet, these people exude thankfulness even for the smallest of mercies and are willing to celebrate the tiniest of successes. Perhaps if we could empathise with those who face such life-threatening need, we would begin to realise just how much we really take for granted in this part of the world and begin to give thanks for all we have been blessed with. “Come ye thankful people come”!
The 9th of September marked the end of an era for Tullow Parish as Rev. Cecily West decided to step down as my assistant as and from that date. Since my arrival in the parish just over five years ago, I have been very appreciative of Cecily’s ministry and support. Prior to that, she assisted my predecessor during his time of illness and covered the interregnum. I know I speak on behalf of all parishioners when I say that we are most thankful to Cecily for all she has done in the parish over the past six-plus years. Her pastoral care, insightful sermons and thoughtful prayers will be greatly missed by everyone. We wish her every blessing in her future ministry.
With every blessing,
The Revd. John Tanner. Tel.: 289 3154 / 086 302 1376